Located right in the center of Shiraz, the Pars Museum and Nazar Garden (bagh-e nazar) in which it is based provide an excellent example of Zand-era architecture, as well as housing the burial site of the dynasty’s founder: Karim Khan Zand. The 18th-century garden is a delight to wander around, but the decorated, octagonal central pavilion is the highlight. Converted into a museum in the 1930s, it displays examples of Zand weaponry, colorful frescoes, watercolor paintings, and some old, hand-written Qurans. The museum is inexpensive and well-worth a visit for the stunning interior ceiling alone.
Address: Zand Street, near Shahdari Square, Shiraz, +98 713 2224151
Haft Tanan Museum
Haft Tanan is much-underrated stone museum located very near the famous Quran Gate at the entrance to the city. It houses a broad collection of stone blocks, offcuts, and reliefs from the length and breadth of Persian history. Particularly fascinating are the differing calligraphic styles carved onto the stones, including Kufic and Nastaliq scripts. The museum takes its name (which means “seven bodies”) from the seven unmarked gravestones situated there, which are said to belong to seven dervishes from Shirazi history.
Address: Haft Tanan Boulevard, Shiraz
Meshkinfam Art Musuem
This former Qajar-era house of Foruq ol-Molk Ghavami now functions as a private art gallery. Not far from the Shah-e Cheragh shrine, the museum commonly exhibits works by contemporary Shirazi artists, as well as fine examples of Persian calligraphy and relief carvings. The unique blend of exquisite art and architecture, and history and modernity, merit a trip to this memorable gallery.
Address: Next to Bi Bi Dokhtaran cemetery on Dastgheib Boulevard, Shiraz
Situated in Persepolis itself, the Persepolis Museum houses a rich array of unearthed objects from the Achaemenid era, 2500 years ago. A great way to add a little historical context and color to your tour of the ancient city, the museum exhibits unearthed artifacts including weapons, clay tablets, dishes, pots, and sculptures. More wonderful still is the fact that the museum building is a reconstruction of an Achaemenid structure that stood there. There is, however, a disappointing dearth of kitschy Cyrus the Great-themed merchandise.
Address: Persepolis, Fars province, +98 728 4432653
Afif-Abad Military Museum
Afif-Abad complex boasts a large garden with some exemplary Persian landscaping, decked with orange trees, palm trees, and flower beds. The palace at the center of the garden is now home to a magnificent military museum, chronicling the weaponry of Iran’s armed forces from the Safavid era through to the modern period. Safavid swords, Qajar rifles, Pahlavi tanks – military history enthusiasts will have a field day exploring the evolution of Iran’s armaments. For reluctant companions of military history enthusiasts, the gardens and the architecture should be enough to hold your interest.
Address: 14 Namazi Street, Shiraz